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Internet Society Board of Trustees Expresses Concern about the Potential Impact of the World Conference on International Telecommunications on the Internet

07 August 2012

[Washington, D.C. and Geneva, Switzerland] – The Internet Society Board of Trustees, during its recent meeting in Vancouver, Canada, discussed the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) and expressed concern that some proposed changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) Treaty could have a negative impact on the Internet.   

Eva Frölich, Chair of the Internet Society Board of Trustees, remarked, “The Internet Society believes that the International Telecommunication Regulations should contain high level principles and that revisions should focus on things that have clearly worked in the field of global communications: competition, privatization, and transparent and independent regulation.  It is our sincere hope that revisions to the ITRs will not interfere with the continued innovation and evolution of telecommunications networks and the Internet.”

The Board noted that the success of the Internet has been driven by open, consensus-based standards processes embodied in organizations such as the Internet Engineering Task Force and other critical parts of the Internet ecosystem that rely on openness and transparency.  

The Internet Society Board of Trustees highlighted concerns about certain changes to the ITRs, which it found troubling.  Among other things, these proposals would:

  • Make ITU-T standards mandatory;
  • Create a new model for Internet interconnection via the ITRs;
  • Adversely impact Internet naming, numbering, and addressing;
  • Regulate network aspects that have never been part of telecommunications, including IP routing; and,
  • Extend the scope and application of the ITRs to the Internet and Internet providers.

The Board is of the view that these types of provisions, if adopted, could jeopardize global connectivity and the future growth of the Internet, particularly in developing countries; impact the architecture, security, and global interoperability of the Internet; and impose detrimental burdens on the free and open Internet that billions of people around the world depend upon today.  

Recognizing that developing countries face challenges in building Internet infrastructure and in bringing down connectivity costs, the Board of Trustees emphasized the Internet Society’s commitment to helping these countries overcome those challenges in ways that support global interoperability and the free flow of information, such as via the development of Internet Exchange Points to improve Internet performance and drive down Internet connectivity costs.

The Internet Society is a strong proponent of the open, consensus-based, multistakeholder model for standards setting and Internet policy development.  “Transparency and the multistakeholder model are essential to developing sustainable and effective Internet public policy,” said Internet Society President and Chief Executive Officer, Lynn St. Amour.

The Internet Society Board of Trustees called on governments not to adopt changes to the ITRs that would undermine the security, stability, and innovative potential of networks worldwide. In preparing for the WCIT, the Board urged all governments to engage in an open and participatory national dialogue, and encouraged Internet Society members to contribute actively to these national discussions that have a global impact.

For more information on WCIT, visit http://internetsociety.org/wcit.